Buddhist monk Wirathu, at Masoeyein monastery, Mandalay, says Muslims pose a serious threat in Myanmar. Picture: Anthony Klan Source: News Corp Australia
He is the face of the anti-Muslim sentiment that has sparked the Myanmar Rohingya regional refugee crisis and left Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi silent and exposed, as international calls mount for the human-rights champion to speak out.
Buddhist monk U Wirathu is the leader of Myanmar’s nationalistic 969 Movement, which seeks to “defend” the country from a perceived threat of Muslim domination.
The creeds of 969, spread via DVDs and social media in a nation where the internet was banned until 2011, have won wide support and have fuelled violent conflicts that have left hundreds dead, mostly the country’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.
Speaking exclusively with The Australian at his Masoyen monastery in Mandalay, central Myanmar, Wirathu said Muslims posed a serious threat to the country, claiming they refused to deal with non-Muslims, forced Buddhist women who wed Muslim men to abandon their religion and waged “jihad” in areas where they were strong in numbers.
“One Myanmar Buddhist girl (who married a Muslim man) who was six months’ pregnant was beaten by her husband when he found out she had been visiting the Buddhist monastery,” Wirathu said. “Another girl was offering flowers to Buddha and she was killed by her (Muslim) husband.”
Anti-Muslim tensions are a major concern for Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, with a November election expected to be called on Monday…
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